5 Ways to Engage Gen Z

7 mins

Generations are a fascinating and complex topic that has been the subject of much study and ...

Generations are a fascinating and complex topic that has been the subject of much study and discussion. At its core, a generation refers to a group of people who are born and raised during a similar period of time, often sharing common experiences, values, and cultural touchstones. Each generation is unique and can have a significant impact on society, shaping everything from political and social movements to consumer trends and technological innovation. Understanding the characteristics and dynamics of different generations is essential for organisations to effectively navigate and succeed in a rapidly changing world. In this blog, we will specifically explore how organisations can engage Generation Z. 

For reference, the Beresford Research Centre[i] define the generations as:

GenerationsBornCurrent Ages
Gen Z1997 - 201211 - 26
Millennials 1981 - 199627 - 42
Gen X 1965 - 198043 - 58
Boomers II (aka Generation Jones)1955 - 196459 - 68
Boomers I1946 - 195469 - 77
Post War1928 - 194578 - 95
WWII1922 - 192796 - 101

  • Digital natives: Generation Z is the first generation to have grown up completely immersed in technology, and they are known for their ability to navigate the digital landscape with ease.
  • Diversity: Generation Z is the most diverse generation in history, with a greater acceptance of differences in race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset: Many members of Generation Z are interested in entrepreneurship and are drawn to start-ups and freelance work.
  • Social consciousness: Generation Z is deeply concerned with social and environmental issues, and many are actively engaged in activism and social justice movements.
  • Pragmatic and independent: Generation Z tends to be pragmatic and independent, valuing practical skills and self-sufficiency.
  • Shorter attention span: Growing up in an age of instant gratification and constant stimulation has resulted in a shorter attention span for many members of Generation Z.

Gen Z is on its way to becoming a significant proportion of the UK’s workforce, and therefore, it is important for employers to understand this generation’s defining characteristics. Some of the main characteristics of Generation Z include:

What can businesses do to engage with the up-and-coming generation?

The advent of social media and the internet has meant Gen Z can receive feedback and communication in real-time from friends and family. The idea of waiting for a monthly review or an annual appraisal is scary, and businesses are likely to find that feedback provided in that manner will make staff more disengaged or anxious about their performance. To engage Gen Z, managers should provide regular positive recognition. However, research suggests that feedback, particularly negative, should kept to monthly 1-2-1 session – again positivity should be the main focus of the conversation. 

Stagnation is the enemy of Gen Z; they want to grow and advance, not just merely to carry out a job but to have a career. Employers should clearly provide promotion and advancement routes for staff, laying out what employees can do in order to achieve goals. Moreover, it would be beneficial to offer placements at education centres either through apprenticeship programmes or part-time university courses. 

Unlike other generations, Gen Z was raised with technology and social media; it is not a luxury or a want but an absolute necessity in their lives. Technology is fully integrated into life and there is an expectation that it is present at work as well. Potentially, in contrast to other generations, there is little tolerance for clunky or slow IT equipment and a lack of systems. For businesses to engage and retain Gen Z employees, they would be wise to review current equipment, ensuring that it is fit for the modern digital age. 

56% of Gen Z[ii] in the UK are hesitant to take on a role from a company that does not have diverse leadership. In Deloitte’s 2021[iii]report, they found that 44% of millennials and 49% of Gen Zs have made work-related choices based on their personal ethics over the past two years. 

Employers should develop an equality and diversity policy (not simply for representation’s sake) which genuinely tackles concerns within the workplace. Promotion and championship of a diverse workforce will engage Gen Z with your organisation, but also, a truly diverse workplace will benefit your organisation in general. 

To engage Gen Z, businesses would want to have a flexible approach to working, whether that be hours or place of work. Gen Z is a social generation and so providing office space is ideal, but in the modern world, there is an expectation of options, and therefore do not discount the ability for staff to work from their home address. A hybrid approach to working is best and should be something advertised at the recruitment stage. The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey (8,273 Gen Zs in 45 countries were surveyed) noted that when Gen Zs were asked which employee characteristics or behaviours have become most critical to the success of their organisations, they ranked flexibility and adaptability first by a wide margin. 

While the five points are applied to Generation Z, by extension they too can utilized with other generations.  

Engaging Generation Z requires a shift in mindset and approach for organisations. This diverse and tech-savvy generation values authenticity, transparency, and social responsibility, and they are constantly seeking new experiences and opportunities. To effectively engage Generation Z, it is essential to provide regular feedback, embrace technology, promote diversity and implement flexible working strategies. By taking these steps, organisations can tap into the unique perspectives and talents of Generation Z and create a more inclusive, innovative, and successful future for everyone.

[i] https://www.beresfordresearch.com/age-range-by-generation/
[ii] https://diversityq.com/what-are-gen-z-looking-for-in-their-future-workplace/
[iii] https://www.deloitte.com/content/dam/assets-shared/legacy/docs/insights/2022/2021-deloitte-global-mill